04 May 2011

The Baddest, Purplest Cyclops Ever

Throughout the night I had assorted ideas for blog posts today about various socio-political themes, but then I fell back asleep and when I awoke I discovered that it was Shockwave I had on my mind.  So, we're taking a break from important stuff to instead discuss a Transformer.  (They can't all be about depression and the killing of terrorist leaders.)

I'm a "G1" fan, meaning I grew up with the first generation of Transformers.  I had most of the Hasbro toys, saw every episode of the animated series and by now you're probably sick of me talking about how important the Marvel Comics comic book was to my childhood.  Shockwave was an interesting character to me.  Not my favorite, or even in my top three (those would be Optimus Prime, Grimlock and Kup), but Shockwave was always significant.  When you account for the fact that Shockwave is a cyclops who has a cannon instead of a hand on one arm, I think it's clear that Shockwave is the baddest guy in all of fiction to rock out in purple (sorry, Joker and Mace Windu).

Shockwave was largely absent in the animated series.  In that show, Shockwave was left behind to oversee Decepticon operations on Cybertron, so we rarely saw him.  He has precisely two lines of dialog in Transformers: The Movie, firstly announcing, "Laserbeak returns, Megatron" in the beginning of the film, and then near the climax when Unicron begins his assault on Cybertron, Shockwave rushes out and yells, "Decepticons, we're under attack; scramble!"  That's it.  That may even be 50% of every line the character ever got to speak in the animated realm.

As a toy, I was struck by the fact that Shockwave, like Megatron, transformed into a gun.  Only where Megatron became a Walther pistol, Shockwave became a big, purple space gun.  In robot mode, Shockwave was easily the superior toy.  Both had skinny, awkward legs (much like myself at that age), but from the waist up, Shockwave had it going on.  His arms were actually pretty articulate.  And, unlike a lot of G1 toys, you could turn his head!

It was really as a comic book character that Shockwave established himself, though.  The Transformers began as a bimonthly, four-issue limited series in September 1984.  The end of that limited series depicts Shockwave conquering the Transformers, Autobots and Decepticons alike.  The Transformers became an ongoing title with issue #5 (June 1985).  I took one look at that cover and I knew this guy was serious.  Optimus Prime's head has been decapitated and helpless; every other Autobot has been killed save Ratchet.  The Decepticons were also vanquished, but Shockwave has begun repairing them to serve him.  In short, the guy made one dramatic entrance into my world.

Any questions about how evil this guy is?
He wasn't distracted by ego, like most villains.  Megatron, Cobra Commander, Skeletor; they were never going to succeed because they got in their own way.  Shockwave, though, was ruthless.  He had ice in his veins, or at least he would have if he had veins and ice wasn't a threat to his electrical composition.  Where others gave elaborate "Ha ha ha! I'm going to win!" speeches, Shockwave simply acted.  It was his competency that made him a threat.  Shockwave actually made me uncomfortable.  There was no one else like him in my world of childhood villainy.  I knew even as a six year old boy that even though Shockwave himself was merely a fictitious character, he was representative of the kind of evil to truly fear in life.

I kinda swiped this from Yahoo! Movies.  Shh!
It was with all this in mind that I became excited to learn that Shockwave will be featured in the forthcoming movie, Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  My chief complaint about the first two Transformers movies has been a dearth of actual Transformers.  Other than Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron and Starscream, I doubt many fans can even name five Transformers by name who have appeared in the first two movies (and even fewer can name characters with speaking parts).  It appears that Shockwave may be instrumental in a story that severely raises the stakes from the first two films, including what appears to be an all-out invasion of Earth.  I don't mind saying, I partly expect--and even hope--to see Shockwave kill Megatron to take over the Decepticon forces.  This has potential to be seriously entertaining.